Responding Like a PhariseeTweet
Last month I received a card in the mail from Legacy Church here on the east side of Columbus, OH.
I posted a couple tweets with screen shots as you can see below.
I received one particular reply which I wanted to respond to in a blog post.
I want to give Lisa Manning the benefit of the doubt. Even though I don’t think she’s asking an honest question (I believe she’s making a point in the form of two questions if you include her hashtag), I want to respond graciously, explaining a few of my own thoughts.
First of all, let’s take a look at this statement
What if one person gets saved or changed their life because they change their thinking?
Change Their Thinking
It seems Lisa has deftly understood that I do not agree with the concept of the mailing I received. I do not think that man’s problem is that our thinking is negative, thus pulling us from our goals and potential.
So, in response to the second part of Lisa’s question, “what if someone changed their life because they changed their thinking?” my answer is that I don’t really care, unless of course that thinking was changed from whatever a person thinks to thinking God’s thoughts, which we know according to His Word.
1 Cor 1:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual
If somehow a person changed their life because they changed their thinking, apart from salvation in Christ and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, although those changes could be positive changes, it is a not the purpose of the church to help people better their lives with better thinking. It is our purpose to preach God’s Word to people and let them fall under the conviction of the Holy Spirit where the only real helpful change occurs (cf Phil 3).
What if one Person Gets Saved?
Next, let’s consider the first part of Lisa’s question. What if a person changed their thinking and got saved? This sounds great on the surface.
In fact, don’t we always say, “such and such sacrifice would be worth it if it helps just one person?”
Well, let’s take Lisa’s tweet in context. She is recognizing that I am opposed to the use of the crude vulgarity on a church mailing. And instead of defending it as a righteous and good practice, she proposes that maybe it will attract someone who ends up saved. Either that or she recognizes that someone may come to church because they want to have more positive thinking, but find Christ while there.
This sounds OK, until we substitute some other verbiage to see if it makes logical sense. Let’s say we have a stripper pole at a church meeting, find some beautiful ladies willing to share what God’s blessed ’em with and invite men from the area to come and enjoy “God’s creation.” Sounds despicable, doesn’t it?
But what if one person gets saved?
“What if one person DOES get saved?” I’d ask. Who cares? What bearing does it have on the morality of the act? None. Zero. The point is this, someone hearing the gospel and getting saved is a wonderful act of God’s mercy – but whether or not that occurs has no logical bearing on whether your method of getting the gospel to them was legitimate.
I would go so far as to say that if you are willing to sin, follow methods NOT prescribed by God for dispensing His Word, or use language NOT becoming of a Christian (Eph 4:29) in order to get the gospel to someone, then you probably are not saved, and you are just practicing a religion you call Christianity, with a god you call Jesus who forgives people of their sins…to assuage your own sin guilt.
Am I a Pharisee?
So does all that make me a pharisee? The implication here is staggering to me because of what pharisees were in Scripture (outside God’s kingdom). Lisa’s tweet goes from an honest question -> to a hashtag which effectively labels me as outside the kingdom of Heaven.
This is a big deal to me because Lisa seems to come from the easy believism camp of Christianity – which is nearly indiscernible from Universalism. My point is this, she seems to be almost a universalist, but she draws a comparison from me to the very people Jesus called a “brood of vipers!” (Mt 23:33)
Of course, maybe Lisa didn’t mean it so literally analogous to biblical pharisees as I took it. Maybe she was just asking me if I was being legalistic or if I was unrighteously judging (John 7:24). I will leave that to you, the reader to decide. But remember, if you judge me to be unrighteously judging for passing any judgement at all, you are caught in your own trap.
I appreciate the good folks who wrote this post which sums up the problem with playing the pharisee card. I strongly suggest you read it.
In conclusion, we need to be a holy people in a wicked and perverse generation. We need to do things the way God has instructed in His Word and trust Him with the results. And we need to keep in mind when we judge others that we ourselves are not committing the same errors we are correcting them for.